In the beginning #1: How I got started in woodworking

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Blog entry by jfastman posted 03-18-2014 06:43 PM 1329 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Over the course of my life I’ve had a few hobbies that have brought extreme joy to my life: snowboarding, dirt bikes, fishing and hunting. None of those activities has ever brought me such a sense of accomplishment like woodworking does. In almost too many ways to count, it has truly changed me and the way I live my life. I’m always thinking of a new project or design. I spend countless hours reading about woodworking, watching videos about woodworking and of course I spend as much time in my woodshop as possible.

How did I get started? Well, as a young man growing up in western Nebraska I was always building something out of wood. I built a treehouse all by myself when I was ten. Constructed a mini halfpipe at thirteen and built a gun cabinet in Jr. High woodshop class. I later turned my focus on working with steel. I took some classes in high school for welding and drafting. I knew then that I had the talent and creativity to make or build anything I could draw on paper. After high school I attended an aircraft maintenance school in Cheyenne, WY. I never once used that education to work on airplanes but it sure gave me the skills to be a mechanic. I went to work for Freightliner trucks and later went on to working on cars. I currently own and operate and small automotive repair and inspection shop in southeast Pennsylvania. Which sort of leads us up to why I’m here writing this blog.

Four years ago my girlfriend painted an awesome painting that we wanted to get framed. It was going to cost more than we anticipated so we thought we would try to do it ourselves. We go to to the local home improvement store and pick up some lumber and trim to make the frame. We also purchased a miter box and saw. Needless to say things didn’t go as planned. None of the miters fit very well and we had no idea how to attach or glue each piece together. We end up buying a cheap stationary belt/disc sander with thought that we could use it to clean up the miters. Nope! That just made things worse. At this point we gave up and put the project aside.

A few months later a friend of mine asks if I would like an old saw that he’s had in a storage unit for a few years. I went with him to look at it that afternoon. I pull back a blue tarp and see a early 80’s Craftsman radial arm saw mounted to the rolling base cabinet that it originally came with. I find a folder in one of the drawers with the original sales receipts from November 1983. The total cost of the saw, cabinet and caster wheel kit was just about $800.00! Wow! I told my friend with an excited YES I will take it! We load it up in my pickup and off I go. I find out that there was a safety recall and send off for it right away. A couple of weeks later it shows up on my doorstep and I waste no time installing it on my “new” saw.

A couple of weeks later I find out that an old farmhouse and several outbuildings near my house are set to be torn down. I talked to the demolition foreman and he allows me to salvage what I can before they toss it all into roll off dumpsters. I end up finding about four unopened boxes of “Vermont” exterior siding. It’s gorgeous and aged well to give an old barn siding look. I start messing around with the RAS and make a few birdhouses and bird feeders for my yard and friends. I have officially been bitten by the bug at this point and there’s no stopping me now.

Thanks for reading this blog if you made it this far. I’m going to be adding some pictures of some of my projects as soon as I can. Stayed tuned.

8 comments so far

View MrFid's profile


885 posts in 2082 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 07:01 PM

Well welcome to LJs! Given how you feel, you’ll really like it here. There’s a lot to learn.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View gamygeezer's profile


166 posts in 1763 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 07:46 PM

Welcome to the woodaholic support group! Did you ever get that picture frame finished? If so, please post it as your first project, I’d like to see the painting.


-- What's a vibrant young guy like me doing in a broken down old body like this?

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2868 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 07:47 PM

Welcome to the world of woodworking . So how is that Picture Frame comiong along now with the New RAS ?

View stefang's profile


16074 posts in 3512 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 08:01 PM

Welcome to LJ. It’s always good to hear that someone has discovered the joy of woodworking. You came to the right place!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View robscastle's profile


5389 posts in 2382 days

#5 posted 03-19-2014 05:56 AM

Oh what a meanie where are all the pictures…please?

-- Regards Rob

View jfastman's profile


10 posts in 1708 days

#6 posted 03-19-2014 03:25 PM

Sorry about the lack of photos. I wasn’t sure what happened to the post yesterday after I typed it all out it seemed to disappear! Oh, it was awaiting moderation. I’ll get a photo of the picture frame as soon as I can. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement everyone.

View a1Jim's profile


117283 posts in 3755 days

#7 posted 03-19-2014 03:41 PM

Welcome to Ljs
your woodworking joinery has just begun grasshopper,may only the best wood be with you :)
This is a very good blog.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jfastman's profile


10 posts in 1708 days

#8 posted 04-20-2014 06:38 PM

Here’s a poor quality photo of the frame. It’s very plain jane but it’s where it all started.

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